What repels you from trying a game when reading a description?


Which would be very appropriate, in a thread about advice for inexperienced writers. This thread isn’t about that.

More to the point, that’s not how the power dynamic between readers and writers works. Readers never owe a writer anything, except what any two human beings owe to each other, which is to engage civilly and respectfully. 100% of the onus for convincing the reader to read is on the writer (or the publishing house, or agent, or other literary professionals whose job is to promote a book).

The reader doesn’t owe the writer to give them a chance, and that’s as true here on the forums as it is in a bookstore. Writing a summary is akin to writing a query letter or a back cover blurb. Part of the job.

As such, I think a discussion of how novice writers can better engage new readers, probably belongs somewhere else. Actually, creating a thread for writing advice (if there isn’t one already) might not be a bad idea.


Same but I’d be impressed at including this in the description.

I have a lot more faith in projects by someone who tried to summarize their work (even if it’s not great) than someone who wrote it off as “Haha I suck at this :slight_smile: Here’s the link:”

When I’m in reader/consumer mode–personal experience has made me aware that most (not all, but most) of the stories/games built that way are messy in other areas as well, because the author in question was already willing to skimp out on one important aspect that didn’t appeal to them for one reason or another.

Writing advice/editing, and other “please help me, I’m new at this” activities are different, mind. Everyone sucks at writing to start, and summaries are hard. Still, better to try at it and refine than skim it (if for no other reason than “Summarize your book in a page, then a paragraph, then a sentence, then a tweet” is actually a really good way to figure out what your story is).


A turnoff for me is when I have to be king or when I have a naive and shy MC


This is a gentle reminder that this is a thread about game descriptions and summaries, aka marketing, and not about what people don’t like about games in general.

What in a description makes you pass on a game immediately, rather than what annoys you when playing said game?

For talking about things you dislike in games in general, you can go here: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |


So I’ve a question for everyone. Reading through this I see some people like descriptions one way, while others prefer them to be the opposite. So how should an author find a middle ground between one or the other? I guess what I’m asking is, if there’s something you dislike about a description, what is the thing about it that might bring you back to trying the game?


I don’t think there’s a way for a writer to write a description that pleases everyone. While we all largely agree on 1) it should be grammatically-correct and 2) “well-written”, we all disagree on whether mentioning lots of ROs or too little ROs is appealing, or if it has X Y Z setting, or if it’s too broad or too specific, lol. That part is so subjective to individual tastes that I don’t think there really is a middle ground!

If there’s something I dislike about a description–say, it’s too vague or there isn’t really one at all–I’m not sure that anything could bring me back to trying it besides people I trust recommending the game to me. If a description lacks key players or storylines to follow, not a lot (short of changing it) is going to convince me to try it out. Maybe only if it’s a setting that I have to try?

I think the thing is, descriptions/summaries are the cover of your book and the face of your project. It’s the first thing potential readers see, so I think for most, if it doesn’t grab them, they aren’t going to try (unless they read every WIP on here fairly and equally). There are some things you can change to make your summary grabbier, and some things you can’t. As we see in this thread, sometimes it boils down to genre, setting, or genderlocking, and that’s often a thing the author can’t or isn’t willing to (and probably shouldn’t) change for the sake of popularity.

Anyway, what I mean to say is: descriptions/summaries are often your first and only chance of getting someone to read your work. I think it should be something that a writer puts work into, but as it’s representative of your game overall, there are going to be some people that it just won’t appeal to, no matter what. In those cases, it’s not worth trying to change it to appeal to everyone when the game itself won’t be those others’ cup of tea.


I think this will vary drasticly from person to person, as well.

If the description state that there’s romance (especially if it makes it clear that you can play gay), I would probably try it, even if I thought it sounded boring.

But I play something like 95% of all new demos, so it takes a lot to turn me off, without giving it a single chance.


In my humble opinion, an author should study their marketplaces.

What do I mean by that? Well, what I mean by this is that, gamers in each market focus on specific key words and concepts and that the marketplaces often will react different to summaries written different ways.

Another thing I would suggest is to study what others have done before to learn what works and what doesn’t.


If ya’ll knew how much painstaking effort we put into writing descriptions for COG titles…


Usually, I find the quality of CoG titles to be of a higher grade than HG titles which are much more variable - I do assume you help CoG authors write theirs but not HG authors?


Descriptions are honestly the hardest part of writing, in my opinion. Like someone mentioned earlier, it’s the first look at whatever you’ve been working on


We ask COG authors to send us a draft description–sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re not at all a match for the kind of copy we need for marketing descriptions. Either way, I or an outside contractor we work with who knows what we’re looking for, will then take the draft and rewrite. Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. And no, we don’t have the bandwidth to help HG authors write them, unfortunately.


Honestly, I feel like marketing and writing copy is every writer’s nightmare (or at least is mine), so I can literally feel the amount of work that goes into COG’s! Not just making the summaries interesting, eye-catching, and engaging, but also keeping each one consistent with COG’s brand/style, which is something that HGs don’t often have to deal with.

Edit: also, to answer @Frosty’s original question about what turns me off of summaries, I often notice that descriptions on here that lack friendliness or warmth tend to receive less comments or attention. That’s probably a no-brainer, but a description containing a call to action or a warm introduction (“Please help me beta this by submitting any bugs or notes about XYZ…” “This is my first story, so I’m excited to hear what people say about it!”) tends to attract way more readers than more brusque “This is the way it is so you can talk about it or not, I don’t care…” or “XYZ is not welcome!”. At least in my observations, anyway.


Perhaps the HG WiPs should include a “Summary” or “Advert” section where they can get input from the community to help them?

I know that I would love to run any I write by the community to help make it better.

  • Also do you have any style guides for the writing of these that we can refer to try to improve our own?


I can ask about sharing our description style guide, but that’s also just what it is: our style guide. There’s a lot of debate about this above, and I’m not interested in arguing for or against how we do things.


Has it yet happened that a description was changed post release because it did not fit with the game?


I seem to recall that we’ve made corrections to descriptions. Why do you ask?


With incredibly few exceptions:

  • sports
  • more than two uses of “innovative” or any variant thereof
  • if “x-like” or other marketing buzzwords are used to describe anything except the genre. “A Metroidvania atmosphere with a roguelike difficulty” and stuff like that.
  • Publisher: EA


To be honest: It’s mainly about OpenSeason:
The intro question there as you get kicked from the show within the demo… in a flashback and the 10 ROs are extremely misleading.

There are some other games where the description advertises things not really ingame, but this is the most glaring one.


Maybe Sergi meant 10 RO’s in the whole HR series. Jk